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Chapter 52 - Dr. Fu Manchu Bows


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« on: January 04, 2023, 11:01:50 pm »

IT WAS one of the queerest experiences of my life. And, owing to my association with Sir Lionel, my days had been far from humdrum.

Exactly what occurred in the interval preceding that strange intrusion which must form the end of this chronicle I cannot definitely state. At one moment I was with Ramin; in the next I had lost him. . . . I exchanged greetings with Nayland Smith—and then found myself talking to a perfect stranger. . . .  . . and we were separated on our way to the buffet. . . .

Over the heads of a group of perfect strangers I presently caught the eye of Betts. He signalled to me.

I extricated myself from the crowd and joined him. Betts extended a salver, with a perfect gesture. Jostled on all sides, I took up a card, and read:

Dr. Fu Manchu

There was no address; just those three words.

I became suddenly unaware of everything, and of everybody about me, except Betts and the card of Dr. Fu Manchu. I spoke—and my voice seemed to come from far away.

“Did you—see the visitor?”

“I showed him up to the Museum Room, sir, which, having been locked, is the only suitable room in the house to-day. He expressed a wish to see you alone, sir.”

“Is he alone?”

“Yes, sir. . . .”

A band had started playing somewhere.

People spoke to me on my way: I don’t know who they were. One idea, one idea only, was burning in my brain: this was a trap, a trap into which the doctor expected that all his enemies assembled in that house would fall!

A final question I threw at Betts:

“He’s a tall man?”

“Very tall, sir, and distinguished; Chinese, I believe. . . .”

I battled my way to the staircase. Couples were seated upon it fully halfway up. I heard the chief’s loud laugh and had a hazy impression that Nayland Smith formed one of the group in the lobby.

They were the two for whom this trap had been laid!

While disavowing any claims to heroism, I must state here that I mounted those stairs to the Museum Room fully expecting to meet destruction. I was determined to meet it alone. The plan should fail. With moderate luck, I might escape; but, even if I crashed, the Chinese doctor would have been foiled.

Sounds of voices, laughter, music, followed me as I threw open the door guarded left and right by phantoms clothed in Saracen armor.

The Museum Room was empty!

For a moment I doubted the evidence of my senses. After all, was it credible that Fu Manchu should have presented himself at Sir Lionel’s house? Was it possible that he could have crossed the lobby without being recognized by one of the many present who knew him?

I was aware, of course, that the room had three doors; but, even so, escape to the street without detection was next to impossible.

But definitely there was no one there!

Then, on the table, that memorable table which I had prepared for the private view of the relics, I saw that a small parcel lay.

A dimmed clamour of voices and music reached me, with which mingled the traffic hum of Bruton Street.

Neatly wrapped and sealed it lay before me; that package which I believed to contain—death.

The motives which actuated me I realize now, looking back, were obscure; but I opened the parcel and found it to consist of a small casket apparently of crystal, carved (as I supposed at the time) in a pattern of regular prisms which glittered brightly in the sunlight.

An ebony box was inside the casket. A sheet of thick, yellow notepaper, folded, lay on the lid of the box. I opened the box.

It was lined with velvet; and, resting upon the velvet, I saw a string of pink pearls coiled around a scarab ring.

My brain performed a somersault. Someone was calling my name, but I didn’t heed the interruption. I was unfolding the sheet of thick, yellow notepaper. It was neither headed nor dated. In jet-black, cramped writing it contained these words:

To Mr. Shan Greville.

Greeting.
You have suffered at my hands, because unwittingly you have sometimes obstructed me. I bear you no ill-will. Indeed, I respect you—for you are an honourable man; and I wish you every happiness.

The pearls are the only perfectly matched set of a hundred pink pearls in the world. The casket is set with eighty flawless diamonds and was made to the order of Catherine of Russia—who was brave, but neither beautiful nor virtuous.

The ebony box is also for you. It will interest Sir Lionel Barton. It bears engraved upon it the seal of King Solomon and came from his temple. The ring is the signet ring of Khufu—supposed builder of the Great Pyramid.

Commend me to Sir Denis Nayland Smith, to Dr. Petrie, and to Karameneh, his wife, and convey my good wishes to Superintendent Weymouth.

I desire you every good fortune.

Greeting and Farewell.

FU MANCHU.

THE END
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